An Illawarra-based charity has welcomed a new report that suggests more progress is needed to support homeless children and young people in NSW.
A new NSW Ombudsman's report shows that 2588 children aged between 12 and 15 presented on their own to a refuge somewhere in NSW in 2018-19, without a parent or guardian.
Acting NSW Ombudsman Paul Miller said children who presented alone to homelessness services needed the highest level of care and support - more than just shelter.
The report was gauging the Department of Communities and Justice's progress in dealing with the problems previously identified in the Ombudsman's 2018 report, and found the recommendations of that report - which it accepted - had not been implemented.
The report said whether those unaccompanied homeless children were receiving the necessary support was unclear.
Southern Youth and Family Services CEO Narelle Clay said children and young people who present, alone, to homelessness services or find themselves unable to live with family are on the streets or living in other inappropriate situations, and are extremely vulnerable.
"They should receive the highest level of care and support," she said.
"We absolutely have to do better.
"A child/young person aged 14, 15 and 16 years of age is too young to live independently.
"If they are unable to return to a family home then these young people should not be destined to a life of homelessness.
"They should enter formal care and receive the support, care management, education and accommodation until they reach an age where independence is possible."
Ms Clay said they welcomed the report, as it would lend further encouragement to the department to implement and support the community services sector to improve the response to this target group.
Meanwhile, the NSW Government says young people experiencing homelessness will benefit from more accommodation options and support services to help them break the cycle of homelessness.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said a new $6.1 million package of support would help put young people on a pathway to housing independence.
"Secure housing is an important foundation for young people to live a happy and healthy life, and to realise their full potential," Mr Ward said.
The new funding will provide additional accommodation options for young people experiencing homelessness, including more medium-term housing options with appropriate support and supervision.
The government says it will continue to work closely with the sector to build on its responses for young people, informed by the recent evaluation of the Homelessness Youth Assistance Program.
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